Why did you let our language fade from our lives?
Why didn’t you insist that we reply to you in our mother tongue?
Why didn’t you make an effort to make us understand how important learning our language would have been in our lives?
Why didn’t you read us stories in our mother tongue instead of reading to us Cinderella?
Why didn’t you give us the opportunity of having our own language?
Why are we now, one out of billions, speaking English?
Why did you pick and choose where culture was deemed necessary and where it wasn’t?
We grow up eating biryani, chicken tarkari (curry), khari kitchri, roti and puri. We grow up with masala and elachi in our food. We know all the spices and vegetables in Indian. We say dhana for “coriander” and binda for “okra“. We grew up with you teaching us respect and modesty above all else. We learnt our lessons by getting hit with a valin (rolling pin) and eating plain masala if we lied or if we were rude.
But us, Indian kids, are missing out when it comes down to language.
There’s something special about Indian languages. There’s magic. There’s mystery. There’s feeling. Saying something in it, gives it meaning. Listening to it gives you goosebumps and a bubbly feeling in your stomach.
We lost our greatest connection to our culture when we lost our language. I look at my African friends and think “how lucky are you, Zulu or Xhosa comes easier to you than English.”
Everything I know in Hindi, comes from Indian movies but Hindi isn’t even my mother tongue. Gujarati is. But the most I can say in Gujarati is: “Kemcho. Haaraa Che?”.
The kid writing this letter in English because she doesn’t know how to do it in any other language.